The concept of building a tree house as a hideaway in and among the clouds has evolved significantly since I was a kid. There are some treehouse concepts that push the envelope aesthetically, and materially. They are sophisticated structures, often sculptural and inspiring. At our house, we support a culture of building. You never know what may show up from the recycling bin in the next creative project. We will be embarking on a new building on our site, occupied by three boys and their daydreams. We’ve been collecting imagery on the inspiration wall in my office to fuel the boys creative energy. Will it be suspended up in the treetops, or be planted firmly on the ground? Either way, it’s bound to be a lot of fun. Watching the boys develop their ideas on sketch up, building models, and exploring boundaries, both physical and of their imagination, are life’s lessons bound in a pile of twigs. Not being afraid to test an idea, understanding the gift of failure and embracing the collaborative process, are what will make this retreat their own.
Research supports the need for retreat, which is explored in “A place of my own” by Michael Pollen. One of my first architecture books in school was A Pattern Language, written by Christopher Alexander. I still own it today. It is a resource for the simple expression of the human condition, and how these elements are defined by space. The boys and I have reviewed pattern 154 titled Teenager’s cottage. “To mark a child’s coming of age, transform his space in the home into a kind of cottage that expresses in a physical way the beginnings of independence. Keep the cottage attached to the home, but make it a distinctly visible bulge, far away from the master bedroom, with its own private entrance, perhaps its own roof. Place the cottage so that the path from the room to the street passes through an important communal part of the house; the kitchen, a courtyard.”
I think there is something to this. I’ll be documenting the process as we embark on our journey to create a place of their own, by their own hands.